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Google offering bike directions

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Google offering bike directions

Old 03-10-10, 05:03 AM
  #1  
benjdm
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Google offering bike directions

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Google spent the past six months tweaking its mapping service so it could recommend routes that would steer bicyclists away from big hills and heavily congested streets. The feature can be used to pinpoint bicycling trails in more than 150 cities.
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Old 03-10-10, 07:09 AM
  #2  
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I JUST noticed this as I was futzing around with Google Maps just now (I had done the same thing yesterday and it wasn't there, so I was like "wtf, did I miss something?" ). Super cool. Shows all the bike routes and bike lanes in Fresno.

It seems to calculate speed at around 10-11 mph....
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Old 03-10-10, 09:21 AM
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"...that would steer bicyclists away from big hills and heavily congested streets."
Cager-inspired bicycle directions, in other words.

-Kurt
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Old 03-10-10, 10:08 AM
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10 mph avoiding hills and busy streets is exactly what a new cyclist wants, and that's probably the person who needs to use the 'by bike' option the most, while planning those first few forays into the urban jungle by bike. It's a good place to start.

I'd like it if eventually Google could allow you to choose a route based on things like your top cruising speed, top speed of traffic you'd be willing to mix with, and have options like 'avoid stop signs' (i.e., preferring non-stop arterials that are still fairly bike friendly). Adding in off-road shortcuts that aren't official bike paths could be interesting, as well, but possibly problematic, since some shortcuts are only for mountain bikes, or may not be accessible at some times of the year. Unlike pedestrians and most motorists, cyclists have a wide range of ability and comfort zones. It will be a challenge to please most of us!

I'll look forward to trying this when (if) it comes to my community, but it may not be much use to me as it stands, since I'm finding more and more that I like to take arterial roads, which have smoother asphalt, fewer stops, and better sightlines at intersections. I usually just use the 'by car, avoid freeways' option.
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Old 03-10-10, 10:18 AM
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Google announced this as launch day today at Bike Summit in Washington DC. Product manager says it's beta and might be buggy. Use "Report Problems" button in lower right corner to updat maps in your area (says it will take a month to update), and for suggestions. Regardless, this is huge...
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Old 03-10-10, 10:20 AM
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Especially useful is being able to see the bike lanes/routes in the city. Only 150 cities as of now, I think... lucky enough my town is one of them!

Funny because I was just thinking of calling the city sometime this week to see if I could find a map of the local back lanes and routes...
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Old 03-10-10, 10:42 AM
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These directions actually work pretty well. The routes are fairly close to what I would use. Apart from missing a few bits of trail.
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Old 03-10-10, 11:49 AM
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It's useless here in Ann Arbor. I just had it try to plot a route I've been on before, and it only used streets, no bike routes as listed in the city's map. Their route is over a mile too far.
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Old 03-10-10, 12:24 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by hshearer View Post
10 mph avoiding hills and busy streets is exactly what a new cyclist wants, and that's probably the person who needs to use the 'by bike' option the most, while planning those first few forays into the urban jungle by bike. It's a good place to start.

I'd like it if eventually Google could allow you to choose a route based on things like your top cruising speed, top speed of traffic you'd be willing to mix with, and have options like 'avoid stop signs' (i.e., preferring non-stop arterials that are still fairly bike friendly). Adding in off-road shortcuts that aren't official bike paths could be interesting, as well, but possibly problematic, since some shortcuts are only for mountain bikes, or may not be accessible at some times of the year. Unlike pedestrians and most motorists, cyclists have a wide range of ability and comfort zones. It will be a challenge to please most of us!

I'll look forward to trying this when (if) it comes to my community, but it may not be much use to me as it stands, since I'm finding more and more that I like to take arterial roads, which have smoother asphalt, fewer stops, and better sightlines at intersections. I usually just use the 'by car, avoid freeways' option.
Something that warns you about uncrossable intersections would also be nice. I once planned a route based on local bike routes and spend 5-10 minutes (not exaggerating) at a stop light. It wouldn't trigger for my bike, and the pedestrian button (which I pressed after a couple minutes) didn't trigger it. Traffic was so heavy on the street being crossed that I couldn't just go across: It was at that nasty point right before congestion where both sides are never stuck or clear. Eventually a car came and the light changed.
The fact that the city calls it a bike route is bad enough. But if there had been a warning I'd have taken a main road instead.
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Old 03-10-10, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Cager-inspired bicycle directions, in other words.

-Kurt
Those are the directions I still want. Following main streets is easy. Following non-main streets is where you need a mapping tool.
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Old 03-10-10, 12:36 PM
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The bike trail data comes from Rails to Trails Conservancy, and they seem to be using it blindly. I just mapped Bedford, MA to Northampton, MA. It found the usable bike trail through Amherst, but it also picked a route on the Reformatory Branch Trail in Bedford and Concord. The Reformatory Branch is a great ride if what you are looking for is a ride on an unimproved dirt path through the woods, but it might be a rude shock to someone looking for something a little more manicured.

Good start though!

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Old 03-10-10, 12:55 PM
  #12  
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I just mapped my commute, and it really goes out of the way to get me on the MUP along the Charles River, which I would never use. Besides being a typical MUP, it really is quite a detour to get there, and there are perfectly good bike friendly streets that provide a pretty direct route to and from work.
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Old 03-10-10, 03:07 PM
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I used it and it sent be a block over from a newly designated bike blvd. (8 months or so). It did direct me to a main street that did have a bike lane.

I did another route I take which I cut though a city park and it sent me about 1 mile around it. It doens't know any alley cat routes either.

I sent in the "report a Problem" so maybe giving feed back will help this work better in the future.

Last edited by jeph; 03-10-10 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 03-10-10, 03:08 PM
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It actually shows why my particular area is NOT bike friendly... Bike routes/lanes and paths all over the city in other areas, but not in my area of hills and mesas and narrow streets lined with parked cars and fast motorists. Of course I knew that... Before I moved into this specific spot, I actually avoided it on bike. The housing deal was too good to pass up and I figured with my experience, I could overcome... HA!
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Old 03-10-10, 03:10 PM
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I just found a huge error (and reported it). Their software "discovered" the walking paths in the local zoo and shows them as bike paths... opps! No way.
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Old 03-10-10, 03:44 PM
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This is a great idea but it needs a lot of work. I put in a route in Miami and it put me on the Snapper Creek Extension (FL 878), a limited access toll road where bikes are not allowed.

It also picked N Kendall Dr. (multilane, 45 mph, no bike lane, no shoulder, and curbs. If a car gets too close, there is no way out. It didn't pick Killian Pkwy (east of 107th Ave), which is an alternate route going in the right direction. I wouldn't rate it the safest road, but it's four lane with a wide grassy median, 30 or 35 mph, no curbs (well, some in the beginning but they seem lower to me), and grassy areas to ditch in. It is their first day, though.

Last edited by Tem; 03-10-10 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 03-10-10, 04:07 PM
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Seems about 50/50 for Houston.
I don't expect it to know the "best" routes.. as that's an opinion often, but there were some problems. Oh... and I LIKE hills.

1. Sent me on a major hwy.

2. Took one trail, but bypassed another which would have avoided lots of road, gone through a public park, and dumped me onto a nice WIDE shoulder.

3. Suggested going through 2 subdivisions.... both gated (non gaurd... must have opener/code for gate).


The houston specific bike map available on houston's website is WAY better as far as locating bike lanes... but it's just a map, not a mapping tool.
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Old 03-10-10, 11:59 PM
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I spent alot of time in Arlington, VA working out the best routes to work and church. The routes I took line up perfectly with what's on the new map tool. Pretty impressed.
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Old 03-11-10, 01:39 AM
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Not available at all in Canada, or at least Vancouver.
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Old 03-11-10, 02:35 AM
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Seems like a good start, but the algorithm does appear to need some work. That's why they call it Beta (as Google calls everything).
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Old 03-11-10, 02:37 AM
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It mapped my route from my new apartment to the library, I don't really care for it's route out to Bay Pines. It does route part of the route on the Pinellas Trail, but it stops before I usually make my turn and I don't care for the route to get to the Pinellas Trail.
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Old 03-11-10, 02:41 AM
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I wonder how they determined which cities to include in that first 150 cities?
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Old 03-11-10, 06:25 AM
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They had this on google maps for europe ages ago. The worst part is that it doesnt let you plan a trip over certain fairly small distances, I think it was like 200 km max. I was using it to prepare a tour, so that was quite annoying.
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Old 03-11-10, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by robertv View Post
They had this on google maps for europe ages ago...
Wut? All I've ever seen here are walking directions, which seem to encourage walking along the most major roads available, and omit bike roads and pathways.
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Old 03-11-10, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
I wonder how they determined which cities to include in that first 150 cities?
Probably its just the cities whose Bike/ped planners submitted KML data to Google. Baltimore City has both a Bike/ped planner and a GIS "guy", previously we had no viable way to produce the necessary KML files. So other cities may be in the latter category or just swarmed with other work and have not gotten around to it.
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